So. I’ve been working on a post about all of the incredible things I experienced when I was in New York for my Pop’s funeral, but it’s taking a long time. I’m writing it all down, then will cut more than half of it to make it more readable because I wouldn’t want to bog you all down in the minutiae. But I’ve been busy. With life.
I hit the ground running when I got home to Missoula, and am at the tail end of working fourteen out of seventeen days. Tomorrow I’m going back to voice lessons. (YES!), but in the meantime I’ve been giving myself lots of treats and liberties. I’ve been saying all sorts of “Yes.” Yes to walks and hikes, coffee dates, dinners out and dinners in, glasses of wine, breakfasts, brunches, stopping by and just hanging around. I’ve said yes to the fundraiser and the roof raiser, and have been delighted when they’re one and the same. I’ve made the time for these things because at every opportunity I couldn’t think of a single good reason not to say “Yes!”
The dirty house can wait. The flip-flops by the door that need to be replaced with snow boots can wait. The writing…well, even that could wait too. Every moment of life with these wonderful friends is just too precious not to be savored.
Today I gave a massage to a man I’d say was around seventy. He was scheduled to come in with his wife, but she was sick and couldn’t make it. He was sweet; I knew it the moment I greeted him. But there was something else going on, and he seemed slightly distracted and tense during his massage. I could tell he appreciated it, but wondered if he was worrying about his sick wife or something else.
When he came out of the room after his massage he handed me a generous tip, and gave a heartfelt “thank you.” He told me his wife would be in soon to see me, and he was sorry for lousing up my schedule. I told him it was no problem, and I hope she feels better soon so she can get her massage. He paused. “This massage was a gift. It was the last monetary gift my daughter gave me before she passed away. She passed last summer.”
His nose reddened. This man was about to cry and so was I. We hugged. I thanked him for coming in, and told him I was grateful that I was able to be a part of the experience for him. I told him that when he checked out downstairs he didn’t have to hand in the gift card even though he was redeeming it. “Keep it,” I said, “If you want to.”
Then I went back into the massage room and burst into tears. Luckily my co-worker had a moment and I shared my experience with her. She teared up too. How could you not?
When I checked out at the front desk the girls told me that my client asked if he could keep his gift card, and of course they said yes. I realize that this man’s wife–the deceased woman’s mother–might not have been sick with the flu or a cold this morning, but that she may have been heart sick. She might have been physically and mentally unable to redeem that last monetary gift from her daughter. Maybe she wasn’t ready; maybe she never will be. I like that the man said “last monetary gift” as a way to distinguish it from the gifts his daughter gave him that had nothing at all to do with money or material goods. Her last monetary gift was not her last gift. The fact that she continues to live in their hearts is a gift that will never stop giving.
I went to Noteworthy* Paper + Press (mentioned here before, but in case you missed it: http://www.noteworthystore.com ) to buy a birthday card for a friend. But I had another card to buy today. My next door neighbor’s son died in a ski accident a year and a half ago, and today was his birthday. She and I talked about the upcoming birthday a few weeks ago, but since then I’ve hardly seen her. It could be the freezing temps, or maybe she’s just laying low. It doesn’t matter why; I just knew I didn’t want to let the day pass unnoticed. I bought her a card that said:
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
I love finding the perfect card. I wrote her a simple note, saying that I hoped her day was more full of fond memories than of sadness, and that when I woke up this morning I thought of Chris. The sun was blindingly bright on a cloudless, bitter cold, blue sky morning after a late autumn snowfall, and although I didn’t know her son, I knew this was the kind of morning he would have loved.
Today was, in large part, about loss, about missing, and about loving. It was also about cherishing, honoring, and accepting what is.
Am I exhausted from all of the “yes” saying? Oh yes, I’m beat. But if I had it all to do again I’d say “Yes” to all of it. And then some. These ARE the days.
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story. I have to go dry my eyes now.
Oh, wow ~
I read this and of course it made me tear up. But mostly it made me happy knowing that this man was so blessed to have had you to share that precious moment with.